Myanmar's army rulers threaten those who call them junta

A woman flashes the defiant three-finger salute as people wait behind barricades for their relatives to be released outside the main entrance of Insein prison compound in Yangon, Myanmar, on June 30, 2021.
A woman flashes the defiant three-finger salute as people wait behind barricades for their relatives to be released outside the main entrance of Insein prison compound in Yangon, Myanmar, on June 30, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

YANGON (REUTERS) - Myanmar's military authorities threatened on Wednesday (June 30) to take legal action against foreign news organisations that describe them as a junta and their seizure of power in February as a coup d'etat.

Many foreign publications, including Reuters, have used the terms to describe the army-led State Administration Council and the overthrow of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military-controlled Ministry of Information published the warning in its Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

"Some foreign news agencies were warned not to further apply the usage of military council/military junta/junta for the government in the future and not to quote and exaggerate the false news," the statement said.

"Action will be taken against them under the existing laws if they apply wrong usages, quote and exaggerate fake news and disseminate false information."

Neither the director of the Ministry of Information nor a spokesman for the ruling council answered calls from Reuters seeking further comment.

The military government has consistently said that it took power in accordance with the Constitution, alleging fraud in elections swept by Ms Suu Kyi's party in November. Its allegations had been dismissed by the then electoral commission and international observers.

Western countries have condemned the takeover as a coup and imposed limited sanctions on Myanmar's military rulers.

The junta has been criticised by press freedom groups for detaining scores of journalists, revoking the licences of several independent media organisations and restricting Internet access.

Military ruler Min Aung Hlaing has described the media as crucial for freedom of expression and democracy, while also calling on local media to prevent the infiltration of foreign ideas.

Some journalists were part of a prisoner release on Wednesday.